By Ed Caryl
This is in response to comments made by reader G Mitchell.
We are constantly told that there is a consensus in climate science that CO2 is warming the planet, or the deep ocean, (or something) and that if we do not limit CO2 something bad will happen. As one can easily see, there is no consensus on the two “somethings” in that first sentence. We are told that CO2 is responsible for warming, cooling, less rainfall, more rainfall, less snow, more snow, less ice, more ice, more hurricanes, fewer hurricanes, more tornados, fewer tornados, and so on. Each of those things can also be good or bad, (but mostly bad) depending on where and when they happen. The “consensus” seems to morph to whatever bad thing the writer wants to prove. This isn’t climatology, it’s calamitology.
The appeal to authority is scientific fallacy
The “Appeal To Authority” fallacy is used in each case to back up the claim. The “Trust me, I’m a Climate Scientist” fallacy is constantly used in either the first or second person. It should be pointed out that the title “Climate Scientist” is always self-bestowed, thus is as ephemeral and fallacious as the consensus.
One claim is that “97%” or “99%” of peer reviewed climate science papers support the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) meme. The first problem with this claim is that getting a paper past the gauntlet of peer review in many climate related journals requires bowing to the requirement for some mention of “global warming” or “climate change” or whatever phrase de jour.
Again and again we find papers that have little or nothing to do with climate change containing those phrases. There are over a thousand peer-reviewed papers taking the converse position. There are also papers cited as supporting CAGW that do not, in fact, support the premise. Fortunately, there are people keeping track of these. I direct the reader to here and here as just two collections.
No agreement on sensitivity means no consensus
There are several “facts” used to back up the claims by “Climate Science”. But there is no consensus on any of these. Climate sensitivity is the first and most important claim as it is the entire underpinning to the argument. There is no agreement on climate sensitivity, there are only opinions. Does the doubling of CO2 content in the atmosphere result in warming? If so how much? Opinions range from some small negative number to above six degrees C, including, of course, the number zero. Even the IPCC cannot settle on a number; the latest iteration being from 1.5 to 4.5°C. A range of three cannot be described as a consensus. The large numbers depend on there being a large positive feedback, as the basic radiation physics of CO2 alone describes a sensitivity of 1°C. The stumbling block of course is the unknown effect of water vapor and clouds. Water vapor is the other (and dominant) greenhouse gas.
No agreement on CO2 lifetime means no consensus
Another “fact” is CO2 lifetime in the atmosphere. This is described in peer-reviewed papers as from less than 7 years to over a hundred, the larger number of course, is used to predict doom. This is hardly a consensus.
Other “facts” in dispute include how much natural variability contribute to observed warming. Ocean cycles and solar variability are two important and heavily argued contributors. Volcanism, natural and man-produced aerosols are others. There is hardly a consensus in this area either. For some recent opinions, go here.
The “Appeal To Authority” and “Ad Hominem” attack fallacies are also used to put down the contribution of skeptical blogs and those that write for and comment on them. It is as if those that do not “believe” are refused a license to think. This is the crux of the problem. This is the reaction of the religious, not scientists. No other scientific field so denies the amateur a place. Why is this so? Follow the money.
Climate science does not require a specialist; it requires a generalist. The knowledge needed crosses all the boundaries. Knowledge in chemistry, physics, geology, biology, botany, mathematics, computers, literature, and library science are all needed, not specialist knowledge, general knowledge. The underlying data and principles involved are not difficult to understand. Anyone widely read in these fields can make a contribution, if they keep an open mind and just think.
My own contributions here are not intended as revealed truth, that would be a religious view. They are suggestions based on the data as found, meant to stimulate thought. This is the basis of science.